7 Fascinating Facts About Disney World Water Rides

Splash Mountain
Credit: Disney

Whether you’re letting your feet rest as you drift along the peaceful waters of “it’s a small world,” zip-a-dee-doo-ahhing your way to that headfirst plummet into Splash Mountain’s briar patch, or getting unapologetically soaked to the bone on Kali River Rapids, it’s safe to say Disney knows how to delight park guests on their wonderful water rides. What’s not to love? The splish-splashing you get on some of the Disney World water attractions is a great way to cool down on a hot park day. The gentle sway of your boat on some of the other water rides offers the perfect opportunity to recharge your batteries, all the while taking in some magical Disney attraction sights. Some get your pulse-pumping while others tickle your funny bone (I’m looking at you, Jungle Cruise), but they are all, without a doubt, delightfully engaging! Let’s take a look at 7 interesting facts surrounding Disney World water rides!

7. How many?

There are currently 8 Disney World attractions for which guests board boats for a floating adventure. These attractions include Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, Liberty Square Riverboat, it’s a small world, Living With the Land, Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros, and Kali River Rapids. Maelstrom used to be included in this list, but has since closed to provide space for Epcot’s new Frozen attraction. Word is not out yet whether this attraction will be a water ride or not. Interestingly, there are no water rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, though if you’d like to get wet, pop on over to MuppetVision 3D, where Fozzie Bear uses his fake boutonnière to squirt a little water humor into the audience (And on a windy night, you might feel the misty spray of Fantasmic’s giant water screens). Though it’s worth mentioning, I’m not counting the raft ride across the Rivers of America to Tom Sawyer Island. And even though that may LOOK like water beneath you, we aren’t counting the flying pirate ships in Peter Pan’s Flight a water ride either (even though you are riding on a “boat”).

6. Audio-Animatronics

Of all the Disney World water rides, the only one to never incorporate Audio-Animatronics into the attraction is Animal Kingdom’s Kali River Rapids. That’s right, even the Liberty Belle Riverboat and the Living with the Land attraction uses various forms of robotic animations, trademarked by Disney as Audio-Animatronics. If you’re disappointed that Kali River Rapids doesn’t incorporate them, riding this attraction will only confirm that you are far too waterlogged to truly notice anyway!

5. Water Ride Lengths

The Disney World water ride that keeps you on the attraction the longest is Epcot’s Living with the Land, clocking in at 13 minutes and 50 seconds. The Liberty Belle Riverboat follows close behind at an almost-as-lengthy 12 minutes and 45 seconds. The shortest water ride award goes to Kali River Rapids, whooshing you through those tumultuous waters in just 3 minutes, 30 seconds.

4. The Clean-Up

Disney World never sleeps and much goes into maintaining these attractions well past park closing, ensuring everything is pristine and clean and ready for the next day. Whether intentionally dropped in or not, there are things that end up in those attraction waters that aren’t meant to be there. Think trash, clothing accessories, CELL PHONES (Yep, it happens often. Don’t text and ride.). Routinely combing these waters for garbage and debris is a system of underwater filters as well as Cast Members, who periodically take a dip and wade through the waters to work on ride maintenance, boat maintenance, etc. Once you hear that dreaded “plop” after something of yours falls in, you can pretty much kiss it goodbye (unless the item remains floating). It is much easier to obtain back from Disney an item if it falls on the tracks of a dry ride. I read a woman’s account of a dropped cell phone in the Pirates of the Caribbean water and a Cast Member informed her that it could take up to two years to receive it back, allowing time for the filters to catch it and the system to sort it out.

3. Not just H2O?

Have you ever seen the river’s bottom while on the Jungle Cruise? Probably not, because Disney adds chemical dye to the river, coloring it a specific shade of green to disguise just how shallow that water actually is (on average 5 feet). Also added to the water on most rides is chlorine to kill harmful bacteria (yep, you’ve seen guests spit into that water…yuck) and even mosquito killer to some of the outdoor attraction water (namely Rivers of America surrounding Frontierland and Liberty Square). It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that the iconic smell attributed to the Disney water rides relates back to the various cleaning additives.

2. All Those Coins

On some of the Disney water rides, such as “it’s a small world,” your eyes might catch on the glinting coins resting on the bottom. There is something awfully tempting about tossing a coin or two into a fountain in hopes that the wish you make comes true, and at Disney people don’t just stop at fountains. The actual dollar amount collected annually from these tossed coins alone is undisclosed (though I’ve read that it is upwards of $100,000). So what do they do with all these coins? The money initially goes to DisneyHand (the worldwide outreach of The Walt Disney World Company), which then distributes it to various charities including the Foundation for Foster Children and their Wildlife Conservation Fund. I wouldn’t, however, toss my quarters into the attraction waters if I wanted to ensure they went to charity. To collect all the coins from a Disney water ride, the waters would have to be completed drained (which they are, on occasion, during major refurbishments). This doesn’t happen too often and over time the coins become corroded and unusable. So the next time you get the hankering to make a coin-tossed wish, head over to the Wishing Well next to Cinderella Castle, where every coin is guaranteed to go to charity.

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1. Underwater Machinery

We’ve all heard the spiel, “Keep your hands, arms, and feet inside at all times.” For the love of Mickey, please heed this warning. These boats don’t just magically end up where they started, floating aimlessly from point A to point B. There is an incredible system of tracks and mechanics going on underneath your boat, and will continue to churn and grind regardless of whether you want to test that theory out or not. Unfortunately, not everyone listens to sound advice—just look at the documented report of a park guest losing two fingertips on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in 2014. It’s unclear exactly what happened—only that his hand was inarguably OUT of the boat—but I would never want to learn the hard way like he did. So please, just trust that there is, indeed, a complex track of working machinery beneath those sometimes murky waters.

About Kelly B

Full time mommy and writer. I love to eat dessert first and have dance parties in my living room with my two kiddies. I have an affinity for strong coffee, Disney and dreaming up fantastical bedtime stories. I love pointing to the night sky and telling my daughter the crescent moon is the Cheshire Cat smiling at us.

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